Posted tagged ‘goals’

If It Feels Right, It Probably Is

March 22, 2010

It’s that time again. Time to reference the blog, How To Make a Living Playing Music, by musician Danny Barnes. It’s an excellent article that every aspiring musician should read if they want a realistic view of what it takes to make it in a music career. Here are today’s thoughts on his blog.

“Keep working on finding more and better places to play, and new contexts within which to place your work. If something feels right, it probably is right. If you are having to bang your head against the wall in regard to something, it may be better to drop it sooner. The longer you work on something that isn’t going to work out job-wise, I think the more time we waste.”

This is excellent advice. I oftentimes find myself trying to push down doors when it’s not the right time or the right avenue.  Here are a few things for you and I to keep in mind.

1. Be Organic
Why is “Organic” such a big fad these days?  Because it’s all about the natural progression of things.  Any good thing takes time to develop. Don’t try to make something happen overnight when it should rightfully take a year.  And remember things that build quickly die just as fast.

2. Don’t Pigeonhole Yourself
The more versatile you are, the further you will go.  Ya, maybe your music appeals more to a specific demographic but don’t limit yourself from opportunities. Barnes’ note on “new contexts” is great.  Don’t limit yourself to bars if you can also get college gigs. Don’t limit yourself to coffee shops if you can also do art galleries.  The sky is the limit and you need your network and sphere of influence to be as big as possible…and to continue growing.

3. Think Ahead
When you’re booking a show, decide what you hope to accomplish by the time you’ve played that show:

  • Will you have reached a new audience of potential fans?
  • Will you have established street credibility with the venue or event sponsor?
  • Will you have a stronger relationship with the other band(s) on the bill…thus keeping the door open for working together in the future?
  • And even if you don’t get the turnout you expected, in the weeks prior to the event, will you have a chance to market yourself to people who’ve never heard about you?

Just some things to think about…

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Resolutions that Remain – Making Moves in Your Music

December 28, 2009

“Goals that are products of dreams are worth pursuing”

It’s the last week of the year.  Yea, official “New Year Resolutions” are highly overrated but goals are not. Take some time this week to really think about your life and your music.

Evaluate: Where were you last year and how far have you come?
I was hanging with a friend the other day. He said the holidays are a time of reflection. Each Christmas you see the same people – the same family and friends. The only difference is that you’re all 1 year older and you all have hopefully come just a little further in the pursuit of your purpose – whether that’s being a good dad, an accomplished businesswoman, or a successful musician. What have you done since last year?

Where do you want to see yourself this time next year?
Now, flash forward? This is a huge question. Where do you want to be next?  Where will you actually be? Can these two things be the same? Be realistic. Set achievable goals but don’t be afraid to dream a little.  Goals that are products of dreams are worth pursuing.

In what area of your music do you want to get better?
Pick that one thing that you really wanna focus on for the new year. LicensingTouringDeveloping Your Band? Social Networking? Then pick a few smaller areas that you would also like to give some attention.

Make plans and tell someone about it. Your goals become more tangible and more realistic when they actually exist in time and space. Not just thoughts. Your friends, family, and fans will hold you accountable when they know what you’re striving for. They will also try to help you.  I can’t stress how important this is.

Got a few good resolutions? Share your thoughts and ideas with others on the Grassrootsy facebook page.

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“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”

October 26, 2009
Tyler Perry

Tyler Perry

After channel-surfing  a bit last night, I came across a 60 Minutes interview with actor/writer/director/producer Tyler Perry.  If you’re not familiar with Perry, he is the Atlanta-based playwriter-turned-screenwriter who has literally created his own genre of movies. His latest movie, I Can Do Bad All By Myself topped the box office during its first weekend in theaters earlier this month.

In short, the interview discussed how, in just 11 years, Tyler Perry has risen to success by finding and tackling a niche audience that no one else in the movie industry has tackled – black, church-going women with children (and also the middle-class African-American). 

“He Who Has the Goals Makes the Rules”
It’s a simple, profound statement….one that I’m sure caught the ear of everyone who watched this interview.  Perry owns everything he makes. He owns his plays, his movies, his TV shows, his 400 employees…etc. He writes everything, directs everything, and acts in almost all of his productions.  And just 11 years ago, none of this existed. Perry was living out of his car and trying to sell his plays to people who didn’t want them.  Eventually he stopped trying to sell them and funded them himself (with very little money). 

“They didnt open the door. I had to cut a hole in a window to get in.”
Considering the state of the music industry, I thought this statement was especially important to highlight.  We’re at a point where you can only make moves if you break in through a window. The doors aren’t opening because too many musicians are knocking on them. The artists who make it are sneaking in through the basement, laundry chutes, and chimneys. 🙂 What are you doing differently than your peers? Work to pave unpaved roads. Check out these posts:

Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #1
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #2
Stand-out Artists and What We Can Learn from Them #3

The Cost of Creating Your Own Rules
When you’re funding and fueling your own pursuits, your audience will always be smaller than it could be. Despite his success, most Americans have never heard of Tyler Perry.  Perry has found his niche but you can pretty much guarantee that if a movie theater is full of movie-goers, 99% of them will be black. Niches are great, and self-promotion is great, but this usually translates into small-audience-higher-impact…whereas, being backed by the “big guys” usually translates into large-audience-smaller-impact.

When all is said and done, keep in mind that Creative Control = Monetary Control.

If you wanna check out the full 60-minute interview, here goes:


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little things that make a BIG difference!

April 22, 2009
TJ Cornwall

TJ Cornwall

Whats the basic rule of thumb? Don’t take anything for granted. Yes, artists are generally big dreamers, but that doesn’t mean you overlook the simple, practical things. If anything it means you need to pay even more attention to the small details in order to make the big things better.  Here are few things that are extremely important in my opinion.

Test everything
Before sending out an email to your subscribers, make sure you send yourself a copy.  Put yourself in the shoes of a recipient.  Is the email readable and broken into small paragraphs so that its easy to digest?  If you were a fan, would the email layout be appealing and worth opening?  Read the Email Marketing – Making Sure People Read What You Write post for tons of other great tips.  This same concept applies to laying out your website and myspace…etc.

The really small thing(s)
Who knew that a small thing like Twitter could make such a difference in the 21st Century.  Some people don’t “get” Twitter. I still don’t “get” it but I know its the simplest form of communication the internet offers.  Write a one-liner, click “send” and it goes out to all your followers.  Within a few seconds I can get out an insignificant or very important peice of news to anyone who is following me

Why do small things like this make a huge difference?  Well, its important to realize that when you have committed fans, they want to know everything about you. And they want to communicate with you.  If they already have a copy of your CD, the next best thing is having a chance to get a sneak peak into your life via blogs, twitter, facebook status changes, the list goes on and on.  And when they can directly communicate with you, it only enhances their feeling of really “knowing” you.  Building relationship is really what its all about.  I’ve been following TJ Cornwall on twitter for a few weeks and he does a really good job with this.

I can also tell you from personal experience, that after sending out a quick msg on twitter or facebook saying “hey, I’m going to So & So’s Open Mic at 7pm” people have decide to come out!  Twitter works. And  people are more likely to read a short twitter msg than a 300 word blog.  Twitter is basically catering to the average persons short attention span. Sad…i know!  But it works!

Scoping out the room
The first thing you should do when you get to a venue is determine the most visible, central spot to layout your CDs.  This is a very simple thing that makes a huge difference.  Alot of artists prefer to hold onto their CDs until the end of their set…but believe me keeping your music in a visible spot gives show attendees a chance to to eye it and decide (throughout the course of the night) whether they want to invest in your tunes. Read the Looking Professional Even When You’re Not (or are you? i just can’t tell!)  post for more ideas on displaying your merch. 

Setting Goals
Ya…its really a matter of just writing it down. For more on this  check out the What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Really post.

If you have other small/BIG suggestions, please post in comments.

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What’s the Worst That Can Happen? Really.

January 21, 2009


Melody Gardot

Melody Gardot


Someone will say “No” to you.  That’s pretty much the worse that can happen is. But somehow that  holds so many artists back from reaching their full potential. “No” should never deter you from trying to do something you think is impossible. Here are some thoughts/ideas of seemingly outlandish things that you may think are out of your reach.

Getting a review in a  major (or semi-major) publication
I think its important to have some experience and credibility (i.e some type of “claim to fame”) under your belt before trying to get a huge review.   But when you do have some quality information to feed the press, send over a short query letter to the appropriate editor to see if they might be interested in a write-up.  Visit “How to Score Reviews of Your CD” for more on this.

Having your demo played on the radio
Some music scenes are very supportive of their local artists.  Some are not. But if you want to be played on the radio, look into independent radio stations. You have a greater chance of being played on independent radio than commercial radio.  And don’t just send in your demo.  Visit the website and find out if they have any specific protocol for local artist.  Figure out who the local music DJ is.  For many stations, DJs have special call-in hours during the week where you can call them and talk about your project.  Having them hear your voice is a great way to break the ice before sending in your CD.  Visit  the The Things You’ll Hate To Do…But Should Do Anyways” post for more on this.

Make sure your demo is quality!  Don’t send crap because it won’t get played.  And make sure your demo is well-packaged.  Don’t send a song burned onto a CD-R. Does your artwork (on the disc and on the packaging) look professional?  You want them to take you seriously.

Set Goals
Seriously set goals!  Then write them down.  When you have concrete goals, your words/thoughts/dreams are closer to actually happening.  Set practical goals. If you’ve never performed, make a goal to do at least 1 show/month.  If you want to have a strong fan base in your city, make a resolution to be on top of as many events as possible.  Always be aware of what’s going on. Immerse yourself in your local music scene.  Visit the “New Year, New Ideas” post for more ideas on setting goals and stepping up your game.

Opening for a national touring artist
National acts are coming through town all the time…and they’re not always playing in huge venues. Sometimes they’re playing in  clubs,  lounges, listening rooms, and art spaces. You’d be surprised!  If you know of a venue in Pittsburgh that regularly hosts national artists, why not contact their booker and ask them how they choose openers?  In some/many cases, national acts set up a tour with their own hand-picked openers. Consider contacting the artists booking agent directly. Refer to the “Stay Informed: Read, Watch, Listen, Go” for tips on how to be aware of what your local scene has to offer.  Remember that opening for a national act is really a great thing to add on your “resume”

It doesn’t always work
Last summer I found out about singer/songwriter Melody Gardot.  She’s huge in Philly and has a great national following. I found out that she would be playing at The World Cafe during the same weekend I planned to be in town.  After searching her site I found her agent’s email and shot him a message.  I talked about myself in 3rd person (bad idea…b/c he totally saw through it)  and suggested that I would be a great opener for Melody that weekend.  He responded promptly, said they already had an opener, and wished me the best of luck.  No hard feelings…just felt stupid since I talked about myself in 3rd person in attempts to sound more official.  


If you’re good at something and you keep doing it, and then keep doing it, you will eventually get where you’re going.

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